Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No Teacher Left Behind - Full Sail Ahead

I can't speak to the quality of Full Sail University or its' online programs, but this is a brilliant marketing idea. I see this as particularly attractive to educators who are feeling left behind by new technologies and their students.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Online Writing Across the Curriculum

Here's an interesting writing project from the University of Arizona. They are developing a one-credit online writing course that will be used to supplement three-credit general education classes across the campus. Sort of an online version of writing across the curriculum. This online approach also addresses a growing problem at many colleges and universities. While enrollments have spiked, existing staff and facilities (consider a college writing center) have remained static and are thus unable to meet the increased demand.

UA adds online writing credit to gen-ed system

The course will
provide an interactive and self-paced online environment in which students' writing skills are diagnosed and improved.

The goal is to provide support to these general education courses
with needed writing instruction that is not available in the typical 50 minute lecture period.

Strategies in the online course include: tutorials on topics in writing not ordinarily covered by professors, such as grammar, drafting a thesis and style and craft ... as well as strategic visits to the writing center.

Additionally, [w]riting proficiency will be tested by a diagnostic system that will, depending on the student's score, direct him or her signed to target a given problem area. These modules will feature flash animation and other interactive software tailored to the specific skill level of the student.

According to English professor and associate provost of academic affairs Thomas Miller, the online course will help deal with problems in writing essays before it's too late.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do You Have 15 Seconds to Spare?

If you have 15 seconds to spare, Google has a series of 15-second videos with search tips. Search tips include Weather, Unit conversions, Dictionary, Flight tracker, Public data (see embedded video), and even Time. Great resource! I hope they keep making additions. What could you say/share in 15 seconds?

National Security and Web 2.0

A little long, but worth the time. A moderated panel discussion on "National Security and Web 2.0" from Google's D.C. Tech Talks series. Panelists included Lt. Col. Patrick Michaelis of the U.S. Army and Dr. Calvin Andrus and Sean Dennehy of the CIA. Among the topics discussed were how each of their organizations are using Web 2.0 tools to share knowledge quickly and make intelligence assessments, as well as the challenges of bringing Internet tools to the domain of national security.

A Camera from a Sheet of Fiber

Here's some interesting materials/nano-science research. I think calling this a camera is probably confusing; instead it probably makes more sense to think of it as an atomic-scale imaging technology. I see potential applications in surveillance, defense, and homeland security.

Technology Review: A Camera from a Sheet of Fiber:
researchers at MIT have integrated a collection of light sensors into polymer fibers, creating a new type of camera. Yoel Fink, a professor of materials sciences and engineering and the lead researcher on the project, notes that a standard camera requires lenses that are usually rigid and heavy. A camera made from fibers, however, could be lightweight, robust, and even foldable. Although Fink admits that the applications aren't yet well defined, he suggests that such a fiber-based camera could be used in a large foldable telescope or integrated into soldiers' uniforms.

Fink is not alone in experiencing difficulty finding applications:
John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, ... adds, the fiber camera seems to be "a technology in search of a problem to solve."

A researcher from Cornell, Juan Hinestroza, a professor of fiber science and apparel design, does list some possible applications,

"I believe it is just the first of many possible applications to come for this technology," he says. Hinestroza suspects that these sorts of fibers could be weaved or knitted into fabrics to sense temperature, occupancy, and traffic in a room or terminal, or to detect the presence of traces of certain hazardous gases.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Students and Second Life

This has to be a first. Students worried that learning might be too much fun.

Students Prefer Real Classroom to Virtual World
College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined.

When Catheryn Cheal, assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, was designing a course on learning in virtual worlds, she thought the best way to research the topic would be to immerse her class into one such world. Her thought was that the ‘motivating factors identified in games, such as challenge, curiosity, control, and identity presentation’ would help the course along.

The result: a course taught by using Second Life, an online environment.

While the interactive style could be fun, Ms. Cheal’s students worried they were having too much fun.

In her recently published study, ‘Student Perceptions of a Course Taught in Second Life,’ Ms. Cheal wrote that the 15 undergraduate students enrolled in the course raised concerns that too much ‘play’ in the assignments inhibited learning. The students also cited problems with the program’s slow speed and with challenges acclimating to virtual life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

K-12 Online

When did this become such a popular option? Or even an option at all? But I guess it's not only an option it's a growth industry. For example, some predict that the enrollment in the Oklahoma Virtual High School could grow by 20 percent to 30 percent in the coming year. A similar trend in Minnesota's Houston district’s online schools
Enrollment at many area schools is declining, but online public schools in southeast Minnesota continue to grow.

The Houston school district houses two online programs, and both schools’ enrollments are expanding. The schools once were split between an elementary school and a high school, but both will now offer kindergarten through 12th grade after an announcement that the Minnesota Center for Online Learning will offer elementary classes next year. “Online learning is such a growing sector of public education,” MCoOL director Steve Kerska said. “We’re receiving applications daily.”

Kerska expects at least modest interest in the K-6 program at MCoOL and anticipates enrolling about 100 students in the program’s first year. The new students will add to a school that has already expanded from a high school to include middle school students and has grown from 460 students a decade ago to more than 1,700 today.

MCoOL will join with Calvert Partners, a private training and consultation firm, to offer the elementary school curriculum.

The online school’s sister program, the Minnesota Virtual Academy, has expanded at a similar rate. The school began enrolling high school students this year, and more than 400 new students have enrolled for next year, boosting enrollment to more than 1,000.

“Parents are looking for options, and not every kid learns in the same way,” MNVA director Angela Specketer said.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kindle Experiments

Publishing for the Kindle would make for an interesting assignment in a writing class.
A Screenwriter Experiments With Kindle Publishing
Two years ago, Mr. August challenged convention by writing and directing “The Nines.” It was a convoluted experience in which the filmmaker, using his own house as a principal location, explored the life of a writer, based on himself, who both manipulated and was confronted by characters of his own creation.

Things have not gotten simpler.

Last month, Mr. August decided to try his luck with Amazon’s Kindle. For his debut, Mr. August chose a short story called “The Variant.” Without giving too much away, it is a spy yarn about a man whose cover is blown by an encounter with an alternate version of himself.

Mr. August, who wrote it for possible inclusion in an anthology of work by well-known screenwriters, tested the story with about two dozen of the 6,000 or so people who follow him on Twitter. They persuaded him to change the first sentence, trim some paragraphs and shorten the title from “The Egyptian Variant.”

Mr. August then made a study of Kindle formatting, all of which he has described on his site, which offers a quick guide for do-it-yourself publishers with his own self-formatted story as a teaching tool. Once formatted, “The Variant” was offered to readers for 99 cents, either via amazon.com or as a 25-page PDF file on e-junkie.com.

Mr. August also offered 13 pages free at ja-vincent.s3.amazonaws.com/variant_sample.pdf. But those will not get you enough plot points to understand how the hero plans to deal with his alternate self.

Readers who do not want to pay the 99 cents are asked to e-mail a message to sales@johnaugust.com. Mr. August has promised to send the story free to anyone who can present a “coherent case” that it should be given without charge.

As of Friday, “The Variant” was ranked No. 69 on Amazon’s list of most popular Kindle offerings, right behind “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult.

“I’ve made about enough to buy four Kindles,” said Mr. August.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plagiarism in Higher Ed

Interesting story of alleged plagiarism by Jacksonville State University President William Meehan. You can find the original comparison here, and read more about it here and here. After seeing a Dean recently struggle with basic powerpoint use, I've come to believe that the competencies and ethical standards we expect of our students are sometimes more rigorous than those we impose on ourselves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cheaper Solar Cells

A pretty exciting development. These could be used in commercial solar cell production within a year. Ink-Jet Printing for Cheaper Solar Cells
An improved process for making solar cells could allow manufacturers to cut the amount of silicon needed in half. Since silicon can account for about three-quarters of the cost of conventional solar cells, this could significantly lower the price of solar power. The technique can reduce the amount of other materials used and improve solar-cell performance.

The process uses ink-jet printing to make electrical connections within a solar cell, replacing the existing screen-printing process. Because the ink-jet method is more precise, it can use less material for these connections. Also, because the printheads don't make contact with the silicon, the method works with thinner silicon wafers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Students on the New Kindle DX

The Kindle DX, with a 9.7-inch screen is targeted to college students for displaying textbooks. A quick survey of students from Wired magazine. Students Skeptical Kindle DX Can Replace Paper Chase
students polled by Wired.com on Twitter listed various reasons for why the DX would fail to replace their mountains of textbooks. Their complaints ranged from the reader’s $500 price tag to the DX being inconvenient for study habits.

“I’d need five Kindles just to hold a single thought while writing essays,” said Marius Johannessen, who is studying for his master’s in information systems at University of Agder. “Books work just fine.”
[Not sure I get this one - MQ]

Indiana University business student Chandler Berty told Wired.com he would consider a Kindle DX if e-books cost less than used physical textbooks. He added, however, that college students already carry laptops, which are superior to the Kindle, rendering the reader unnecessary.

“Two devices = fail,” Berty said.

Students pointed out plenty of other issues about the DX to Wired.com. For instance, students often loan textbooks to one another, and currently that’s not practical with a Kindle, as you’d have to loan your entire reader and library. Also, the beauty of paper textbooks is the ability to highlight sentences, underline keywords and keep all of them open at once. While the Kindle does have highlight and notes tools, the reader is sluggish with performance, and the keyboard is unnatural and clunky to type on.

Overall, 19 students replied to our query via Twitter, five of whom said they would definitely purchase a DX, seven who said no and seven who said maybe.

“Law students are waiting for Kindle books!” said Twitter user “SoCaliana.” “We have so many books to carry around. I couldn’t find my texts on CD or anything!”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moore’s Law Hits a Brick Wall

The end of Moore's Law - doubling the capacity of semiconductors every 18 months - from no less an authority than SanDisk CEO and founder Eli Harari. He's not real optimistic that we can do anything to avoid hitting the wall in five years. Funny, the WolframAlpha result for Moore's law is 2011 - I guess they're computing an even shorter lifespan.

Counting Down to the End of Moore’s Law - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

[we] can double the capacity of its chips only two more times. Once the industry goes from its current 64-billion-bit chip to a 256-billion-bit chip (that’s 32 gigabytes), it will hit that brick wall.

Then what?

Your camera and music player will certainly be able to store a lot of files. But you won’t be able to count on next year’s iPhone having double the capacity at the same price.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Media College - Free Audio-Visual Media Resources

Media College - Video, Audio and Multimedia Resources
MediaCollege.com is a free educational and resource website for all forms of electronic media. Topics include video & television production, audio work, photography, graphics, web design and more.

We have hundreds of exclusive tutorials with supporting illustrations, videos, sound bytes and interactive features. You'll also find reference material, utilities and other useful goodies, as well as a helpful forum.

Everything here is 100% free with no strings attached — we only ask that you respect our terms & conditions. We produce this website because we love it and we want you to love it too.

iGoogle Mobile Updated

One of the great things about web-based apps is that they are updated in real-time. No waiting for CDs, DVDs, or downloads. If you have a Google Android phone or an iPhone, this is a great update to to Google's iGoogle personalized homepage. I'm particularly amazed that they were able to include some of the third-party gadgets in this update. Official Google Mobile Blog: Snack time with the new iGoogle for Android and iPhone
Today, we're excited to roll out an improved beta version of iGoogle for the iPhone and Android-powered devices. This new version is faster and easier to use. It supports tabs as well as more of your favorite gadgets, including those built by third-party developers. Note that not all gadgets — like those with Flash — will work in mobile browsers.

One of our favorite new features is the in-line display of articles for feed-based gadgets. That means you can read article summaries without leaving the page. You can also rearrange gadget order or keep your favorite gadgets open for your next visit. None of these changes will mess up the layout of gadgets on your desktop computer, so feel free to play around and tune your mobile experience.

The new version of iGoogle for mobile is available in 38 languages. To try it out, go to igoogle.com in your mobile browser and tap "Try the new Mobile iGoogle!" Bookmark the page or make it your home page so you can return to it quickly.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Open Video Conference

Great conference opportunity! Also a chance to see Clay Shirky.
Open Video Conference in NYC June 19-20: Discount for BB Readers, Xeni Speaking
The Open Video Conference takes place June 19-20 in New York, and the event promises ample awesomeness. Speakers include, NYU's Clay Shirky, Harvard's Yochai Benkler, DVD Jon, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, EFF's Corynne McSherry, and many many more. I'll be delivering a keynote on Saturday afternoon.

Check out the full agenda here.

Blending Computer Programming and Journalism

Training programmers in basic journalism - interesting approach; probably wouldn't have been my first idea for saving journalism. How about training journalists in basic programming? Or better yet, create a new generation of journalists, with a broad range of skills, including: technology, skills with digital media (audio, photography, and video), search engine optimization (SEO), social media and networking, and entrepreneurship. Did I leave anything out?

Can Computer Nerds Save Journalism?
Word to those who think the Internet spells the end of traditional print media: 'hacker journalists' have arrived to save the day. (Read 'The State of the Media: Not Good.')

A cadre of newly minted media whiz kids, who mix high-tech savvy with hard-nosed reporting skills, are taking a closer look at ways in which 21st century code-crunching and old-fashioned reporting can not only coexist but also thrive. And the first batch of them has just emerged from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. (See 10 ways your job will change.)

They've just completed a new master's program at Medill — with scholarships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — aimed at training programmers in basic journalism so they can better understand how technology is impacting the industry and trying to engineer change down the road. Medill isn't the only higher-education institution blending computer programming and journalism; at other schools such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, traditional J-school programs are incorporating a dose of tech-thumping.

Online Learning in Tough Economic Times

Some great points made in this editorial. With money already tight and budgets getting slashed, we should be focusing more and more on online education. Saves money for the student and the school! Also worth a read is a related story, Virtual schools can help cut costs, that provides more details from the study referenced in the editorial.
Legislature's cutting of Florida Virtual School penny-wise, pound-foolish
The evidence is in: Virtual schools that serve K-12 students save money and increase learning opportunities.

Unfortunately, the nearsighted Florida Legislature still lacks a clear vision for online education. Lawmakers slashed $21 million from the operating budget of the Florida Virtual School — the nation’s largest virtual school, based in Orlando — during the 2009 session.

At a time when school districts throughout the state are cutting their budgets and laying off employees — in effect, eroding educational opportunities — the Legislature should be expanding, not reducing, students’ access to virtual learning, which provides opportunities local districts often cannot.

At the very least, cost-conscious lawmakers should recognize the potential of virtual schooling to save money.

Researchers at the University of Florida’s College of Education surveyed 20 virtual schools in 14 states, comparing the cost of full-time online learning with regular schools. Here’s what they found:

The average yearly cost of online learning per full-time student was about $4,300 compared with the national average of $9,100 for a traditional public school.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blackboard, Angel, and Anti-Trust

There's a lot of discussion on our campus concerning Blackboard's acquisition of Angel (we are an Angel school). I'm a bit surprised that there hasn't been more interest from regulators, whether it's over anti-competitive practices or a potential monopoly. what those who "know more" tell me is that Blackboard can point to the availability of open source LMSs such as Moodle or Sakai to bolster their argument that they're not a monopoly and that their acquisition of Angel is not anti-competitive. I'm not convinced.
Justice Department Looks Into Blackboard's Angel Acquisition
The United States Department of Justice is apparently taking an interest in Blackboard's recent acquisition of Angel Learning. DOJ has been asking questions about the controversial buyout, according to Blackboard's chief rival in the commercial LMS space, Desire2Learn.

Blackboard bought Angel Learning this month for $95 million in cash and stock. Although Blackboard promised ongoing support and development for Angel customers, the announcement was met with considerable concern from the Angel user community--ranging from mere nervousness about competition in the market to outright anger. (Some comments can be viewed here.)
photo via MikeLeSombre

Are You 'Friends' With Your Students

A couple of interesting articles discussing the merits and risks of teachers/faculty interacting with students in Facebook, MySpace, and other digital environments.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Google Wave in Less Than Ten Minutes

If you haven't watched the Google Wave video (one hour and 20 minutes), here's a great overview of Google Wave from Gina Trapani. The Google Wave Highlight Reel
using TubeChop I’ve sliced up the video into eight 30-60 second clips that show off the best parts of Google Wave (minus the awkward nerd moments, bad scripted jokes, and network outages that happened during the full demo).

Prezi - An Online Alternative to Powerpoint

I've a prezi.com account for awhile, but hadn't done much. Here's a quick video I recorded of a prezi from Chris Thomson (@electricchalk).

Open Source Online Textbooks

Here's an innovative idea that helps deal with the high cost of textbooks and potential with the constant updates required for many subjects. Online textbooks from Connexions, that are licensed under creative commons. From their website:

Open-source online learning to replace textbooks
Connexions brings together authors, educators, and learners in a space where they can easily share expertise and experience.

Connexions allows anyone to create, view, and share educational material in the form of courses, books, and reports.

Creative Commons protects the work, allowing authors to set rules for use.

For example, a homeschooling parent or teacher with experience in a particular field could easily distribute that knowledge throughout the homeschooling community and beyond.
For a sample, take a look at:

Monday, June 08, 2009

Digital Students

Lisa Tuttle-Huff, Principal of the Green Tree Health Science Academy, describing students improved performance in blended online course versus traditional delivery with a textbook. Watch my video on teaching the digital student.
District to revamp online programs
“What we’ve found with these students are that everything seems to be digital for them,” she said. “Multi-media is the way that captured their attention all their lives. You get their attention and you also have a teacher there to do hands on activities.”

Anoto penPresenter - Lively Powerpoints

This is very cool! A little pricey at $300, but if you present a lot - like teachers - and need to make your presentation more dynamic, this might be the ticket. At the very least, install this on the instructors computer in all computer classrooms.
The pen just got mightier
It's a James Bond tool for the mainstream world, a digital pen that acts like a portable, personal whiteboard.

Anoto Inc., a Westborough technology company, recently launched Anoto penPresenter, which records notes and displays them on a screen during presentations.

The pen, which is about the size of a fountain pen, combines a digital writer with PowerPoint, allowing notes to appear on screen in real time.

The idea is to make meetings and presentations more interactive, allowing participants to have instant copies of any material added during the session.

Friday, June 05, 2009

We Need More Programmers

Lack of Programming Skills Puts U.S. Security at Risk
The former head of the U.S. Air Force Cyber Command believes the lack of interest in computer programming among U.S. youth is creating a very serious vulnerability in the nation's security.

The lack of American kids who actually know how to program computers is resulting a shortage of "cybersoldiers," according to Air Force General Robert Elder, who told author and media studies professor Douglas Rushkoff that the U.S. could find itself surpassed in cyberskills within the span of a single generation.

"General Elder has no problem attracting recruits ready to operate robots or fly drones using controllers modeled after the ones that come with the Sony PlayStation. Hell, they love playing videogames already," Rushkoff wrote on The Daily Beast. "His problem is finding high-school graduates with any experience or interest in actually programming all this stuff."

Rushkoff said U.S. kids aspire to become game designers while kids in India, China and Russia are learning how to write the code that will actually run those games. As a result, he wrote, "Our competitiveness in war, as well as in the high-tech market, is already being propped up by outsourcing contracts only as durable as the bank loans they're being funded with."
[Emphasis added -MQ]

This is Depressing

Sam Kaplan and Louie Harboe's company, Tapware, is one of the more promising technology startups in Chicago.

So why is this depressing? Because Sam and Louie are in 7th grade!

Based in Hyde Park with guidance and a bit of seed funding from one of the University of Chicago' s top business school professors, Tapware recently released its first iPhone application called 'The Mathmaster' and has a second app in the works. With as much institutional knowledge of the iPhone development platform as arguably anyone on the planet, Kaplan and Harboe seek to profit from an industry that has spawned more than 1 billion downloads of commercial applications within its first year of existence.

iPhone Programming Course

A non-Stanford iPhone programming course. This one at Abilene Christian University. Makes sense, since ACU is one of the first schools to give freshman an iPhone or iPod Touch. The course was offered as a May short course, with only six students.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

More on Kids and Texting

I've been making the case to colleagues that students text when they're are bored - disengaged. Here's a kid saying just that! Cellphones get A for attendance
Erin Dorn, 17, is involved in sports and gets very good grades. She’s had a cellphone for two years and says using it during class hasn’t affected her marks at all.

"When teachers started talking about banning them, I started to pay closer attention to it and I haven’t noticed any change at all. I’m taking a Canadian history course this term and I don’t use my cellphone in that class because (the teacher) is very interesting. I don’t need to text anyone because it’s interesting to pay attention."
[emphasis added - MQ]

Dorn claims it’s a teacher who is "throwing things at us that we don’t understand and teaching us stuff we had no idea about" that results in students pulling out their cellphones and texting to pass the time.
photo via ariel !

Before and After Google Wave

An interesting Google Wave before-after from Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times. Google's Wave of the future is genius, but will it work?

Before Google Wave - the old way of doing things:
Take this very column that I’m writing. Moving thoughts from my head to your eyeballs requires three or four different communications systems. I write the column here in my word processor (1). I email it to an editor (2). He or she makes some changes and if they’re big enough, I get a phone call or a separate email and we talk them over as I make changes (3). It then goes from my editor’s desk to the Sun-Times’ webserver and the mysterious part of the operation that publishes it on paper (4).

The Sun-Times Twitter (@suntimes http://www.twitter.com/suntimes) account broadcasts a link to the article when it’s been posted. I’ll probably re-Tweet it to my own 20,000 followers (@ihantko, http://www.twitter.com/ihnatko) which we’ll cal 5.
After Google Wave - the new way of doing things:
here’s how this column would be produced using Wave:

I have a browser window open that looks almost identical to my Google Mail window. I have an “inbox” of fresh Waves (well, if you must think of them as “messages” then go ahead … but I want my objection noted).

Just as with a conventional Inbox, the newest Waves are at the top. Waves with unread contents are highlighted in bold.

I click a button and create a new Wave. An empty editing pane opens on the side of the window, looking almost exactly like a new email message.

But it’s a rich-text editor that supports media and fancy formatting. I write my column. When I’m finally ready to give it to my editor — or at least ready for him to stop worrying that I’m only an hour from deadline and I still haven’t filed yet — I quietly drag his icon into the Wave.

Over at the Sun-Times, the Wave of this column appears in my editor’s Inbox, highlighted in bold. He clicks it to take a look.

Oh, damn. Technically, the Google Wave demo is only 80 minutes, not 90. I should have caught that error.

Before my editor’s very eyes, the “90” changes to “80.” The Wave is a “live” communication that I’m sharing with my editor any anybody else we choose to bring in. I’m still free to edit it. Finally satisfied that I have indeed crafted a Perfect Gem of flawless Truth, Beauty and Wisdom, I head over to the kitchen to fetch a celebratory Diet Dr. Pepper.

My editor quickly spots at least one line that causes grave concern: a sentence in which I intimate that Lars Rasmussen, Google Wave’s Software Engineering Manager has often been seen tramping out of a secluded wooded area carrying a shovel and a filthy empty burlap sack roughly large enough to stuff a whole human body in. He adds an instant message-like note: “It this true? Or are we going to get sued over a bad joke?”

I return to my office, beverage in hand. I note that the Wave containing this column is now in bold and at the top of my Inbox. I click and see his note. I add a threaded reply, also IM-style, sheepishly acknowledging that I was just having a bit of fun.

I see her typing him response to me, letter for letter. Good, he handled that well. Then I see the offending paragraph vanish.

(But how do you keep on top of all of these little conversations and changes? Each Wave has a timeline at the top. You can “reverse” or “fast-forward” through the timeline as though it was a YouTube video, witnessing the Wave change and evolve.)

My column has now been edited. My editor drags another participant into the Wave. This new guy is actually a little piece of software called a “robot,” located on a central server. The robot can now share in the process. This particular bot adds this article to the front page of the SunTimes.com site, without any of the private comments between me and my editor.


Oh. Did I say that this software is called a “Widget”? No, no: it’s a “Robot.” Damn and blast. Well, I mean, it’s a day later and I’m at lunch with somebody besides. What can I do about it?

Well, I can get out my iPhone, open up my Wave client on the phone’s built-in web browser, and make the change. And come to think of it, I now have a really great screenshot of Wave in action. I drag it into the Wave right where I want it to appear.

My editor — who is still part of this particular Wave — sees it immediately in his Inbox.

Oh, and remember: the “put this on SunTimes.com” robot is part of the Wave. He sees that change, too. So my edits immediately reflected on the website. In fact, anybody who happened to have been reading the column at the time could see each of those changes being applied, at the very instant that I was making them, one at a time.

They can’t change the article themselves, of course (anarchy!) but there’s an unbroken pipeline between myself, my editor, and SunTimes.com.

Wave defines the standards, the architecture, and the mechanisms for making the above example happen. In fact, even the “Google Mail-like window” I described isn’t Wave. It’s merely the way that Google has implemented its own standards into something useful.

Web 2.0 Flourishing in the Enterprise

This is interesting data - Web 2.0 seems to be moving into the mainstream.

T+D Blog: All Hail the Future!
Of 181 businesses (with an average size of 15,000 employees), the most frequently deployed technology was online video at 56 percent with role-based portals coming in second at 41 percent. Social networking (23 percent), blogs (21 percent), podcasts (19 percent), wikis (15 percent), and RSS feeds (12 percent) were all clustered near each other, but somewhat farther behind.

However, positive ratings were high with 65 percent of companies being satisfied with their use of online video; 59 percent with their use of podcasts; 58 percent with their use of RSS feeds; and 57 percent with their use of role-based portals. The lowest satisfaction rates were with social networking (49 percent), blogs (40 percent), and wikis (40 percent), but even those were still relatively high.

Online Green Courses

UMassOnline Announces New Offerings in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Environmental Public Policy, and a Green Building Professional Development Series:
UMassOnline, the online learning division of the University of Massachusetts, today announced a timely suite of three new program offerings in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Environmental Public Policy and Green Building. These UMassOnline programs were collaboratively developed by, and are being offered through, UMass Amherst Continuing & Professional Education and its University Without Walls (UWW) unit, and UMass Dartmouth.

‘These quality programs have been developed in quick response to some of the most pressing environmental and ecological challenges facing our planet and a future generation of local, regional, national, and international business and community leaders,’ said UMassOnline Interim CEO Mark Schlesinger. ‘These innovative offerings and the speed at which they have been tailored for quality online learning,’ added Dr. Schlesinger, ‘speak to the University of Massachusetts’ online learning vision and our commitment to matching its educational programs, online and on-campus, with the ever-changing contemporary learning requirements needed to meet 21st century career opportunities.’

Complete program details about the Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Environmental Public Policy and Green Building Management can be viewed on the UMassOnline website at www.umassonline.net.

I Guess Even I Can Be Outsourced

To me, what's most troubling about this story is that the professor hasn't actually been outsourced, but has been completely removed from the equation. Yet the classes show up on the university transcript and are indistinguishable from any other courses taught at the college.
Kansas university stirs debate over outsourced classes
Just how much can a college outsource and still be a college? The question is no longer just academic at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

Under a novel arrangement, the school will accept credits from a private company that runs introductory courses in subjects like economics and English composition - listing them on transcripts under the Fort Hays State name.
The company working with Fort Hays State, StraighterLine, runs its own courses, which are designed by experts but aren't led by a professor. Nonetheless, the credits earned would be indistinguishable from those taught by professors at Fort Hays State.

The reaction on campus is as you would expect - even a student-created Facebook protest group:
To some on campus, that sounds like a restaurant ordering takeout from a rival and serving it up as home cooking.

"It could really damage our academic reputation," said Topher Rome, a graduate student who helped start a Facebook group with 147 members opposing the arrangement.
Rome further:
compares StraighterLine's arrangement with FHSU to "money-laundering but with credit" - essentially borrowing the university's own accreditation to give its courses legitimacy.
Why is the university doing this?
... the public university notes the arrangement isn't for current students there - it's mostly a recruiting tool. Fort Hays State hopes to drum up business amid declining state funding and a dwindling local population, encouraging those who sign up for the online courses to continue their education through the university.
Fort Hays' financial goal is recruiting more students. State funding covers about half the portion of the budget it once did, Provost Larry Gould said, and the area's population has been declining for more than a century. It's responded with a huge online program that enrolls more students off-campus (6,800) than there are on-campus (4,500).
Gould acknowledged some faculty are worried but says they shouldn't be. Once students transfer into FHSU, all courses would be taught by university faculty; if more transfer in, there's more work.
Has the outsourcing help improvement recruitment? Not yet:
So far, Fort Hays has credentialed coursework for about 64 StraighterLine students since the agreement with the school in May 2008, but so far none have formally transferred into the university.
So what's really behind this? Why would a university outsource classes, risking the outrage of faculty and students and raising questions of quality and credentialing. The R-word - revenue!
"Our first job is to provide education services to the citizens of western Kansas," Gould said, but the university can't do that without generating new revenues.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Twitter Tracker: Conan pokes fun, hilarity ensues

Saw this on Conan last night. Great bit making fun of Twitter.

Twitter Tracker: Conan pokes fun, hilarity ensues

Twitter in the Classroom

How One Teacher Uses Twitter in the Classroom
Teachers are always trying to combat student apathy and University of Texas at Dallas History Professor Monica Rankin has found an interesting way to do it using Twitter in the classroom.

Rankin uses a weekly hashtag to organize comments, questions and feedback posted by students to Twitter during class. Some of the students have downloaded Tweetdeck to their computers, others post by SMS or by writing questions of a piece of paper. Rankin then projects a giant image of live Tweets in the front of the class for discussion and suggests that students refer back to the messages later when studying. The Professor's results so far have been mixed but it is clear that more students are participating in classroom discussions than they used to. A video about Rankin's classroom experiment follows.

Rankin's experiment is similar to another effort at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, written up this Spring in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Another related example is available from Marquette University. Education consultant Jane Heart maintains a directory of more than 1000 learning professionals on Twitter.

Professors Posing as Students

What a bad idea. I guess the thinking is if you can't relate to students, pretend to be a student. Unfortunately, I think this does more harm than good. How can you discuss ethics with students, when you're committing an ethical breach? And what if students share something with a fake student that they wouldn't want their professor or any professor to know.
Wired Campus: Online Professors Pose as Students to Encourage Real Learning
a small group of “ghost students” that academics in Indiana, Connecticut, and South Africa have injected into online courses to kick-start discussions among students, keep them from dropping out, and spy on their communications.

The deceit has provoked questions about faculty ethics. Two of the professors admit that their unreal students teeter on an ethical precipice, because the technique could be abused. Others in the distance-education community accuse them of falling over the cliff. The critics worry such behavior could scar the image of an education sector many still regard with skepticism.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Free Recycling for Your Schools Old Computer Equipment

Image via Wikipedia

Great recycling opportunity for any schools with old desktops, laptops, monitors, and peripherals laying around. Amazing that they're accepting equipment from any manufacturer, the program is free, no purchase is required, the program includes data protection (recycled hard drives are ground into confetti-size pieces), and Apple will actually come and pick up the equipment.
Apple goes green, launches free recycling
K-12 schools and higher-education institutions can recycle their used computers and peripherals from any manufacturer free of charge, under a new limited-time offer from Apple Inc.

All accredited K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with at least 25 pieces of recyclable equipment (limited to computers, printers, and displays) are eligible to participate, and there is no purchase required, Apple says.

In addition to the minimum 25 pieces, Apple also accepts all brands of the following electronic equipment: computers, monitors, laptops, printers, fax machines, scanners, desktop-size copy machines, CD drives, hard drives, TVs, VCRs, projectors, overhead projectors, networking equipment, cables, keyboards, and mice.

The program is available until July 31--meaning schools must register by this date--and extends to PCs as well, not just Macintosh devices.

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Memoir of a Beginning iPhone Developer

Interesting foray into iPhone programming by James Heary, with a background in network and system security. Let's hope he keeps up the programming and keeps writing about it.
A memoir of my journey to become an iPhone App Developer, how hard is it really?
What is the real deal with iPhone application development? Is it easy, hard, or somewhere in between? I just took a weeklong iPhone development course to find out. Like many iPhone owners, I want to have my own App Store shot at fame and fortune (well at least the fortune part:). Ever since I purchased my iPhone I thought it would be cool (and maybe profitable!) to develop my own iPhone app for the App Store. When I heard that a developer class was coming to my hometown of Denver I decided to seize the opportunity to throw my hat in the ring.

Just about every chance they get, Apple hypes up the usability and ease with which developers can create iPhone apps. During the last MacWorld, Apple paraded developer after developer across the stage. Apple makes it a point to emphasize a couple of the newer developers opinions on how easy it was for them to develop on the iPhone. The developers always give Apple raving reviews.

Texting vs. Teaching: Who Wins?

Great article that makes a point I have often tried to make - students are texting in class because they're bored. If we as educators did a better job of engaging them, they'd have no reason to text.

Texting vs. Teaching: Who Wins?
Our high schools are full of secretly texting, blithely unengaged adolescents, my colleague Dan de Vise reveals today in a story on a Montgomery County proposal to let students text during lunch. Dan’s story describes the situation well. Educators can’t keep up with the latest technocrazes. They banned cellphones for awhile, then decided they were necessary for emergencies. They figured no one would use them in class, forgetting that the text function allows a flurry of conversations without the miscreants making a discernible sound.

No one in the story asks my question: What do good teachers do about this? The best classes, in my experience, are the ones in which the teacher is holding a conversation with the entire class. Nobody is allowed to sit in a corner and dream about the prom, or text their dress choices to friends. The teacher has her eyes on the entire class, and is calling on everybody. If you are not paying attention, you are going to get caught. If the instructor is particularly good, the frequent texter decides what the class is doing is more interesting than sending another message.
[Emphasis mine - MQ]

But since such classes are relatively rare, and teaching often involves the instructor talking and students listening, it is relatively easy for texters to avoid detection, and relatively common for them to be so bored they prefer to tune out and send messages. The standard adminstrative response is to try a new rule--like texting only during lunch--that might or might not alleviate the problem, when the answer to almost every educational mishap or distraction is not more rules, but more good teaching.

Kids and Texting

An interesting piece on kids and texting in the New York Times. Unfortunately, two passages quotes MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle are so far off the mark, that I question the merit of the entire article. Texting May Be Taking a Toll on Teenagers - NYTimes.com:

In this first passage, Turkle posits that a kids 'job' during adolescence is to separate from their parents, and become the person they are meant to be. Staying connected with parents, by texting with them, inhibits this growth. What a load of hogwash! How is this any different than a kid who calls her mother every night?
Sherry Turkle, a psychologist who is director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and who has studied texting among teenagers in the Boston area for three years, said it might be causing a shift in the way adolescents develop.

‘Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be,’ she said. ‘Texting hits directly at both those jobs.’

Psychologists expect to see teenagers break free from their parents as they grow into autonomous adults, Professor Turkle went on, ‘but if technology makes something like staying in touch very, very easy, that’s harder to do; now you have adolescents who are texting their mothers 15 times a day, asking things like, ‘Should I get the red shoes or the blue shoes?’ ’

As for peace and quiet, she said, ‘if something next to you is vibrating every couple of minutes, it makes it very difficult to be in that state of mind.

‘If you’re being deluged by constant communication, the pressure to answer immediately is quite high,’ she added. ‘So if you’re in the middle of a thought, forget it.’
In the second excerpt, she sees kids being resentful of parents on their own Blackberrys, taking attention away from the kids. Which kids did she study? This is so far out of my own experience and observations.
Professor Turkle can sympathize. “Teens feel they are being punished for behavior in which their parents indulge,” she said. And in what she calls a poignant twist, teenagers still need their parents’ undivided attention.

“Even though they text 3,500 messages a week, when they walk out of their ballet lesson, they’re upset to see their dad in the car on the BlackBerry,” she said. “The fantasy of every adolescent is that the parent is there, waiting, expectant, completely there for them.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Beatles Rockband

For all the baby boomers who just don't get the Rockband and Guitar Hero craze.

Geeky Wrapping Paper


Great for the geek in your life!
Geeky Wrapping Paper

Using YouTube to Market a College

Here's another great video from Lake Superior Connect. Are any of your schools using YouTube to market like this? Watch more of their video on their YouTube channel.

Your Personal Learning Network

In Teaching and Learning - The Digital Student, I talked about building a PLN or Professional/Personal Learning Network. A PLN is a great way to connect with peers, learn something new, and stay ahead of your students. If you have some time tomorrow, here is a free webinar on building your own PLN, offered by PBS. Even if you're busy, load up the webinar on your wirelessly connected laptop and listen/watch while you're eating diner, doing some work, watching TV, or helping your kids with their homework. That's how your kids and students would do it!
PBS: Email - Join Us Tuesday, June 2 for PBS Teachers Live!
Join PBS Teachers and Classroom 2.0 Tuesday, June 2 at 8 p.m. ET for "Summertime and Your Personal Learning Network,"with technology integration specialists Bob Sprankle, Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes.

In this webinar, our guests will discuss the value of online collaboration and provide guidance for those interested in joining or creating a professional development community during the summer months. They will share their own experiences of expanding their knowledge and improving their practice through online conferences, social networks, and other collaborative technologies. In addition, they will demonstrate tools and best practices to promote technology integration in K-12 classrooms.

To Join This Webinar, Click the Link: Online at Elluminate Live!
Please note: If you are having problems with the above link, please cut and paste the link below into your browser bar.
<https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2008350&password=M.8F821313A796D6BF881CE659E65849 >

Take a Class - Libraries and Gaming

This is an interesting idea for two reasons. First, the concept of "gaming in libraries" and second that it's offered through YouTube. You can learn more here and get a copy of the syllabus. Also, it's pretty cool that they have a library game lab!

Syracuse University professor to teach via YouTube

Syracuse University's School of Information Studies, or iSchool, is trying out the possibility of teaching a course that is open to students and the public via YouTube.

Throughout June, iSchool associate professor Scott Nicholson will teach the course "Gaming in Libraries" (IST 600) in three places online:

  • The Syracuse University YouTube channel, where video lectures and guest speakers will be posted and where students enrolled in the class will be required to post weekly video responses;
  • American Library Association Connect, a social networking site that will host the discussion of students, speakers, librarians and other participants from the general public;
  • The iSchool's online learning management system, a private space for enrolled students to ask questions and submit their assignments.

Nicholson hopes to reach public librarians who are interested in learning about incorporating gaming into their libraries and to bring together students, librarians, gamers and representatives of the gaming industry.

G-Learning: E-Learning Goes Green


Is e-learning part of your college's sustainability plan? It probably should be. As the study I've referenced below indicates, another unexpected benefit of online courses is less impact on the environment. In a brilliant marketing campaign, Lake Superior College in Duluth is using print ads (above) and YouTube (below) to promote their online courses and programs.

Is Online Learning Better for the Planet?:
As a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, online learning may be one of the most unexploited means of achieving a smaller carbon footprint. Though few traditional colleges and universities in the U.S. have yet to track this as part of their climate reduction strategies, research now indicates that it may have potential for cutting carbon emissions on several fronts.

A joint study entitled Towards Sustainable Higher Education: Environmental impacts of campus-based and distance higher education systems conducted in 2007 by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) and the United Kingdom's Open University Design Innovation Group (DIG) identified new educational models, such as e-learning and distance education, as significantly less carbon-intensive as conventional classroom-based coursework.

Examining 13 campus-based and seven print-based and online distance learning courses (20 total), the study compared potential sources of carbon emissions including paper consumption, computing, travel, accommodations, and campus site impacts, with the latter three having the largest impact. Results were normalized in terms of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per student.

Offering more intensive utilization of campus facilities, online learning provided impressive carbon dioxide savings over conventional classroom education. Economies of scale give online education the edge by spreading campus impacts over a larger number of students, reducing campus site CO2 emissions from 81 kg (178.5 lbs) for a full time to student to about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) for a blended online and print-based course.

Not surprisingly, travel was also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting from term-time travel to and from campus, as well as travel between 'home' and term-time residence. Distance learning courses (including online education) resulted in an 89 percent reduction in travel-related emissions over full-time onsite courses.

Residential energy consumption was also considered in the study, with the assumption that if a full time student had a term-time residence separate from 'home,' it resulted in a duplication of dwellings, heating energy for which was included. On average, residential energy for full-time students in regular classrooms came to 102 kg (225 lbs) versus 4.4 kg (9.7 lbs) for primarily online students.

And while many have expressed concern that the ensuing increase in computing for online education could negate any energy savings because of the incredible amounts of electricity used to run server farms, this did not prove true. Certainly, the largest environmental impact of online education was computing, adding 24 kg (53 lbs) of CO2 to the atmosphere per student (as a side note, paper use showed little change when comparing online to onsite students). Yet the study concluded that the 90 percent savings in energy and emissions in the areas of transport, campus site, and residential energy far outweighed this downside.

The popularity of e-learning platforms in the U.S. has been rising steadily in recent years, with more than 3.9 million students taking at least one online course during fall 2007 -- up 12 percent over 2006. 'Higher education is growing at about 1.5 percent annually, while e-learning is increasing at about 9-10 percent,' according to Ray Schroeder in the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning at University of Illinois (Springfield). Yet most institutions have not yet added e-learning initiatives to their sustainability plans.


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